Sobral is known as The Princess of the North; built on the banks of Acaraú River, it is one of the most important cities in the interior lands of Northeast of Brazil.
A historical city, Sobral is protected by the Institute of National Historical Heritage and is also an important center of handcraft production, especially straw braiding. Its extraordinary architectural heritage has big homes built in the 17th century and an important collection of churches.
The big houses in Sobral are good examples of how Brazilian aristocracy used to live in the past centuries. The city is protected, since 1999, by the Institute of the Historic and Artistic Heritage (IPHAN). The charming historic buildings are nowadays important tourist spots in the city, such as the Culture House (1858), São José Municipal Theater (1875) and the old homes, built when the village was created in 1773. The Cathedral of Sobral was built in 1793; another religious icon in Sobral is Our Lady of Fatima Arch, built in 1953.
Sobral has several relevant museums. An example is Dom José Museum (see below), where one can see the best religious art. The Eclipse Museum is dedicated to Astronomy; Sobral was visited by Albert Einstein in May of 1919, when the Scientist was collecting evidences to support his Theory of Relativity. The equipment utilized by Einstein's crew is in the museum, along with a modern collection of astronomical equipments, including the most potent telescope in the North part of Brazil.
Many industries were set up in this town, ranging from shoes, construction material, soft drinks to coffee (see list of some industries here). UVA, the Vale do Acaraú State University, is responsible for the scientific production, offering several graduation courses.
Sobral is also exciting. An off-season carnival called Carnabral has attracted tourists from all regions since 1994. The patroness of the city, Our Lady Conceição, receives devout pilgrims with parties on December 8th.
Dom José Museum
Opened in 1971, with five thousand pieces collected by Dom José Tupinambá da Frota, Dom José Museum, also known as Diocesan Museum, is one of the largest museums of religious art and decoration items in Brazil.
The building's façade, dating back to 1844, shows an impressive beauty. The two floors are ventilated by 57 windows. This place has already been the Episcopal Palace, from 1933 to 1959 and its architecture invites for a visit. In fact, when one enters the building, the history of Northern Ceará throbs everywhere.
The collection is formed by Indian, religious and archaeological items and also pieces from the local aristocracy. Furniture, wooden art, candlesticks, saints, paintings, sculptures, fossils, chandeliers, oil lamps, couches and chairs used for transportation, carried by slaves, as well as china that used to belong to the West India Company and about 10 thousand coins are examples of what can be found in the museum.
Guides follow visitors telling stories about the items. More information on the phone: 00 55 85 3611-3525.
The eclipse observed by Albert Einstein's team in Sobral in 1919 verified the Theory of Relativity. To eternalize the event, the Eclipse Museum was inaugurated in 1999. It has pictures of Einstein's team, newspapers of the time when the theory was confirmed, a telescope used by the scientist and eclipse simulators and moving copies of the Solar System. It's the perfect place for astronomers and even for laymen, who can learn more about this topic.
Modern architecture represents two half-moons. Outside the museum, there is a monument to celebrate the eclipse, which was built in 1923 and another in 1974. Every time there is an eclipse, the museum promotes observation and events related to the phenomenon.
More information on the phone: 00 55 85 3695-5205.
»Sobral. Official site, maintained by the government of Sobral.
»Sobral Live. Latest news about Sobral.
Source of information: State of Ceara Tourism Authority.